Book Review: ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER Is Like Leafing Through A Personal Photograph Album

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Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s On Set With John Carpenter is a must for fans of the Master Of Horror. Gottlieb-Walker was the set photographer for director John Carpenter’s run of early films and the book is brimming with images from Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, Halloween II and Christine.

On Set With John Carpenter would be highly recommended if it was merely a selection of images from these iconic Carpenter efforts, but the book also includes the photographer’s recollections and many of those who were on set, including Carpenter, who also provides the book with an introduction. Kim Gottlieb-Walker was pulled into Carpenter’s orbit by Debra Hill, the producer who teamed with the director on these cult productions and the photographer became part of Carpenter’s film family as he brought these films to the screen. What emanates from the page of this hardback tome is the sense of fun that everyone seems to be having on set. These were fairly serious horror/sci-fi movies, but everyone appears to be having a blast.

Stand-out images from this book include Dennis Quaid hanging out on the set of Halloween (his wife at the time P.J.Soles starred in the film) and Kurt Russell on the set of Carpenter’s 1980 ghost story The Fog. Russell wasn’t in that Carpenter film, but starred in Escape From New York the following year. It’s strange looking at Gottlieb-Walker’s images from that film and seeing Russell without Snake Plisskin’s trademark eye-patch.

Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s On Set With John Carpenter is a remarkable book showing a director in his prime, directing a dedicated cast and crew who wanted to make their mark and carve out careers in the film industry. The photographs give a student film vibe to the productions and a sense of amusement that must surely be missing from big budget Hollywood pictures. At times it feels like you’re leafing through Carpenter or Gottlieb-Walker’s personal photograph album and that makes it special.

On Set With John Carpenter is out now from Titan Books RRP £24.99

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